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Crash Course: AJAX: A Quicker Way to Freshen Your Web Pages


Interactive Web sites with dynamic content are a must for any organization. But refreshing an entire page to update just a few pieces of dynamic content can make an interactive page seem, well, unresponsive. How do you update your dynamic content without reloading the static pieces?

Enter Asynchronous JavaScript and XML--a mechanism to obviate a full-page refresh. Ajax makes Web sites feel more interactive by updating only the dynamic content, such as newsfeeds and stock quotes. With Ajax, pages load faster during updates and use fewer system resources. The technology has gone live in Google Maps and other popular Web sites. When you click and drag a Google map, you trigger a document request, which updates the map but doesn't refresh the page's static elements.

Microsoft Hotmail and other sites, meanwhile, could benefit from Ajax. After you read a Hotmail message, for instance, the entire page must be reloaded to update the message-read icon. Hotmail would feel more like Outlook if it used Ajax, and that's exactly the point: to make Web sites feel more like desktop apps.

Heart of the Matter

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